Administrating the Tin Ducks

From Australian sf information
Jump to navigation Jump to search

The running of the Tin Ducks is done (officially) by the Tin Duck Administrator.

Conflicts of interest

Because the people who are active in running the Tin Ducks are likely to be the same sorts of people who are creating works that are eligible for the Tin Ducks, it is necessary to avoid the appearance of conflict of interest, and to avoid the possibility of an actual conflict of interest. To this end, the person who is officially named as the Tin Duck administrator should not be in the running for a Tin Duck. But the people who carry out the work in the various steps below need not be the person named as administrator -- they just need to show their work to the official administrator for approval. In this way the appearance of propriety is observed, and hopefully any genuine conflict-of-interest problems will be noticed by the administrator.

Setting categories

Categories for the Tin Ducks are deliberately not specified in our regulations. This is so that they can change as needed, either because fans are making works in new ways (as new technology allows) or because more or less nominations are appearing in various areas. Past categories include:

  • Best WA Professional Writing, Long form
  • Best WA Professional Writing, Short form
  • Best WA Non-professional Writing;
  • Best WA professional production in any medium;
  • Best WA non-professional production in any medium;
  • Best WA Visual Artwork; and
  • The Tin Duck Awards Committee Chair’s award.

You can set categories before you call for nominations, and then adjust those categories if necessary after nominations and before ballots, or you can set the categories after nominations have closed.

If you get a vast number of nominations in a single category, consider splitting that category. If you get very few nominations in a category, consider merging categories.

Here are suggested descriptions for categories (remembering that the categories themselves are flexible):

Best WA Professional Long Written Work

Professional long written work is for a piece published in the (year) calendar year which was over the length of a novella for which they received monetary payment.

Best WA Professional Short Written Work

Professional short written work is for a piece published in the (year) calendar year which was the length of a novella or less, for which they received monetary payment.

Best WA Professional Art Work

Professional Art Work is for a piece of art that was published in the (year) calendar year for which they received monetary payment. This can be via commission or submission.

Best WA Professional Production

Professional productions include professional podcasts, anthologies and works edited by Western Australian editors, which have been produced by a professional body or for which they received monetary payment.

Best WA Fan Written Work

Recognising the work a fan has put in for their written work, whether by blog, publication, in a fan magazine or any other form of written work, for which they have not received monetary payment for their services.

Best WA Fan Artwork

Recognising the work a fan has put in for their art work, whether by display at the Art Show, publication in a fan magazine or any other form of Artwork, for which they have not received monetary payment for their services.

Best WA Unpaid or Fan Production

Recognising the work of the community who have produced a production for which they have not received monetary payment for their services, whether in the form of a podcast episode, a fanzine production or a small convention.

Seeking nominations

A google form can be set up by the Tin Duck Administrator, for the purpose of collecting nominations. As there is no nomination period set out in the rules, this can be created at the start of the year and maintained for the full period works are being created. (As an example, the nomination form for 2020 is here.

Send an email to the Swancon list; post on the web site, post on Facebook, etc. Here's a sample:

Nominations are now open for the (year) Tin Duck Awards, the annual Western Australian Science Fiction Foundation (WASFF) Achievement Awards for WA writers and artists. The awards will be presented at the Awards Ceremony for Swancon (year), which will be held at (venue) on (date, and time if known).

The categories for the (year) Tin Ducks are:

   Best Professional Long Written Work
   Best Professional Short Written Work
   Best Professional Artwork
   Best Professional Production
   Best Fan Written Work
   Best Fan Artwork
   Best Fan Production

Works eligible to be nominated must have been "published" (be it written work, art or any form of performing art or convention running) in the (year - 1) calendar year, and must not have been voted upon in any previous Tin Duck Award. Works will be validated by the Tin Duck Awards Committee, and may be moved to a different category than nominated if deemed necessary. Any works nominated without a category may be deemed invalid by the Awards Committee. Nominations may be subject to short-listing if necessary in categories with large number of nominations.

Multiple nominations may be submitted for any category. Nominations must be received no later than midnight (date), and can be submitted via email to


Your email should include your name, plus the category and title for each nomination.

Nominations can be sought once the previous year has ended, and ideally three months or so before the convention, however, no nomination period is specified in the rules, so an alternate approach is permitted. Nominations should close two months or so before the convention.

Manufacturing awards

It's traditional for Tin Ducks to look different each year, and to be made by an artist from our community, in return for a smallish payment. Find an artist. If you can't find an artist, ask the Artifactory. Bear in mind that ties are common, because of the relatively small number of voters, so make an extra one or two. Some works are created by multiple people -- we give one award per work, but if we have spares because there were few or no ties, we can give away extras to works created by multiple people.

Making ballots

From the nominations, you must construct a ballot. Not everything nominated needs to go on the ballot: you can set a cutoff. For example, in category X you might decide that items need at least two nominations to make it onto the ballot; in category Y they might need three nominations. Ideally each category will have 3 to 8 (or so) choices. This is not always possible, because items may be tied for nominations. In each category there should be a "no award" option.

Voting is optional preferential. Ballots must be signed by voters. Voters don't have to vote in every category.

Distribute ballots via paper progress report (where possible), via the Swancon email list, the web site, facebook, etc. Also distribute ballots from the front desk at the convention itself. Close voting such that you have enough time to count ballots and print award certificates. Typically this means closing voting 20 to 30 hours prior to the awards ceremony.

Counting ballots

First, go through the ballots and sort them into formal and informal. A ballot without a signature is informal. A ballot with a signature may be formal for some categories and not others. In general, if it's possible to unambiguously divine the voter's intent, it's formal. Run each race in turn, producing a tally sheet for each race. There's a procedure in our by-laws showing how we do optional preferential voting.

The ceremony

Between nominations and the ceremony

  • Create ballot - print some copies to be filled out at the convention (this is the main way ballots are filled)
  • Invite all creators who are on the ballot, to attend the Awards Ceremony (and advertise the time and venue). If they are unable to attend, ask them who should collect an award if they win.
  • Create slideshow - put the nominations in and an extra page for the winners later
  • Ask if there is any mumfan/silver swan/chairperson awards to add to the ceremony
  • Create or purchase trophy - budget $50-100 for this, (You will also need to purchase/create the Mikey trophy, though it is not given at the Tin Duck ceremony.) (You will also need to create Ditmars if this is a Natcon, which have specific design requirements. Again, these are usually a separate ceremony. See also Ditmar running guide, Ditmar rules.)
  • Organise host - preferably someone who isn't running the show
  • Organise presenters - if there are secret winners you need to lure there, make them presenters
  • Ask previous winners to present
  • Have backup presenters because there will at least be one person who doesn't turn up

You should ask guest liaison to ask guests to present, give them the last categories for suspense

  • Create script
  • Create certificate templates - Swancon gives a certificate to winners, Ditmar gives certificates and a pin to all individual nominees

Running the ceremony

The awards ceremony typically runs in an evening slot. It requires set up time for AV, so it's typically run in a program room that has the previous hour idle then goes for no more than an hour (half hour for ceremony, half hour for loitering) ; either because the ceremony immediately follows the meal break, or because you've just programmed a blank slot there. It typically runs not on the same evening as the masquerade. If awards from the art show are being given, it must run after the art show awards have been determined. (These generally consist of a judge's choice and a people's choice; the people's choice is balloted, and these ballots must be counted.)

Post ceremony

  • If awards/certificate was not collected - organise delivery
  • Keep ballots until the end of the convention - no requirement to hold on to for certain amount of time

See also